The United States Stake in the South China Sea
Tensions are high in the South China Sea after a Chinese military ship last month shined a military-grade laser light at a Philippine patrol vessel that temporarily blinded its crew.
In response, the United States warned China that they will defend the Philippines, if needed. As a former U.S. colony, the Philippines has a close relationship with the United States. They are treaty allies, and have a strong trade relationship with over $18.9 billion goods and services traded in 2020.
Under former President Rodrigo Duerte, the Philippines had chosen to have a closer relationship with China, and shifted foreign policy away from the United States. With current president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., though the Asian nation is going back in the opposite direction, to the displeasure of Chinese officials.
The South China Sea is home to an abundance of resources, with the U.S. Energy Information Agency estimating that it holds around 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and possible reserves.
Disputed territories in the area are valuable to everyone involved, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Burma, and especially the two major global powers, China and the United States.